Election 2020 House District 47
By JAKE WEBSTER
For The Jefferson Herald
Republican incumbent Phil Thompson is seeking another term in the Iowa House of Representatives.
A graduate of Jefferson-Scranton High School, Thompson enlisted in the Army afterwards, spending eight years in the service, going to United States Army Airborne School and Ranger School and deploying to Iraq.
“I went to West Point for two years and then I came back to Iowa after that,” he said. “And then I started a construction company with a couple of brothers, and I’ve been doing that ever since.”
The Jefferson Republican representing House District 47, which covers much of Boone and all of Greene County, is one of the youngest members of the Iowa House, having won his initial election in 2018 at the age of 27.
“I had to really do my homework and really understand the policy and be ready to talk in real detail about what I wanted to do and what policies I was passionate about,” he said in an interview with The Jefferson Herald. “So I mean in that way I think it made me a better candidate because I knew that people were going to look at me with some cynicism and I would really have to prove myself and prove my mettle.”
He said his age adds a different perspective to the Republican caucus, and that there is a group of several younger members who were elected when they were in their 20s.
“We’re really focused — my little group of younger guys — we’re really focused on attacking the brain drain in Iowa, making sure that we’re keeping our youth that we’re putting through school and trying to come up with some incentives to keep people our age in Iowa,” Thompson said.
With regards to work in the legislature, Thompson said he developed some “great relationships” with colleagues in Des Moines in his first year, establishing himself as a hard worker and someone who can get the job done.
“So during the second year where we kind of had the weird finish to session, I was prepared for that and I knew how to go to bat for my community, and even though it was a really crunched-down timeline of about a week of establishing a budget, making sure that it worked for my district, I think I built the right relationships to make sure that I can make an impact for my community even in a week,” he said.
Speaking of some of his legislative accomplishments, Thompson touted his push to increase funding to the transportation equity fund in the state budget.
“That helps our rural schools that have to put a lot more money into just getting kids to the classroom,” he said. “It helps them out a lot because it kind of reduces that burden as we put more money into the transportation costs and that doesn’t have to come out of their (...) funding. That was a big win for me, and that was a big win for where I went to high school in Greene County.”
If elected to another term, Thompson said responsible budgets would come “first and foremost” among his priorities.
“We’re in a really good position as a state because of good, careful planning with our budgeting and we’re sitting on pretty solid reserve funds right now,” he said. “We’re one of the best postured states, arguably the best postured state, to survive this COVID epidemic and any economic downturn that it might have had. So I want to continue to make sure that we’re budgeting responsibly.”
He added that responsible budgeting allows the state to appropriate funding to the education system and rural hospitals.
“We’ve got to save money where we can, so we can make sure that even in really tough years like this one that we just went through, we can still provide those increases,” Thompson said.
Thompson discussed issues that are important to him personally, saying that across the board he wants to “go to bat” for rural Iowans.
“Part of my rural values are protecting Second Amendment rights,” he explained. “I think that’s a really important issue to me, it has a lot to do with my background, military and also working with the NRA. So I’m a strong Second Amendment advocate, but the general theme of my campaign and what I’m there to do is go to bat for our rural communities in our state and make sure that we’re delivering opportunities for rural Iowa.”
With regards to his time in the legislature so far, Thompson said he was humbled by the opportunity to serve his community.
“It’s been the honor of a lifetime and I look forward to another term of fighting hard for my people, it’s just an incredible honor,” he said.